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The Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Arts and Ideas welcome you to the 2013 Annual Conference of the Nordic Society for Aesthetics. The theme of the conference is “Gesture” and it will take place at the University of Oslo from May 30 – June 1, (Thursday noon through Saturday evening).
The use of gesticulation has always been a means by which human beings have expressed themselves. Being bodily rather than conceptual, its logos lie outside language. Within the fields of art and aesthetics, gesture implies an opening process as a distinctive way of cognition as well as an approach to the particular qualities of artworks. While Jean-François Lyotard associates the artwork with the processuality of gesture, Roland Barthes thinks gesture in terms of the event, and its production of effects, thus seeing gesture at once as a part of the artwork and as transgressing the work “itself”. For Theodor Adorno the gestural in music was a central topic and Ludwig Wittgenstein spoke of architecture as a gesture. Part of our aesthetic experience and of our “answer” to artworks is always gestural.
YOUNG SCHOLARS AWARDS
Curtis L. Carter, President
Gao Jianping, Secretary General
CALL FOR PAPERS
Contemporary Aesthetics is an international, interdisciplinary, online journal of contemporary theory, research, and application in aesthetics.
Contemporary Aesthetics (CA) is an international, interdisciplinary, peer- and blind-reviewed online journal of contemporary theory, research, and application in aesthetics. Contemporary Aesthetics has begun its tenth annual volume and invites submissions of articles that bear directly on contemporary aesthetic theory and concerns, as well as current reassessments of traditional issues. Articles that are primarily historical or that focus on particular art works or individual artists are not appropriate to the mission of this journal. The discussion should be accessible to an audience across disciplines and promote conversation across fields and practices. We welcome the use of visual images, auditory, or video clips to illustrate the text. The length of articles is normally no greater than 5,000 words but should not exceed 7,000 words, including an abstract and notes. Please go to http://www.contempaesthetics.org/pages/guidelines.html for more information about requirements, formatting, and guidelines for submission.
Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic, 17 – 19 June 2013
Submission deadline: 31st of January, 2013
The European Society for Aesthetics would like to invite you to submit a paper for presentation at the ESA Conference 2013. The conference will be co-organised by the ESA and the Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague and will take place in Prague from the 17th of June (morning) until the 19th of June 2013 (evening)
Edited by Fotis Jannidis, Gerhard Lauer and Simone Winko
Published by de Gruyter
The Journal of Literary Theory invites contributions for Vol. 7, No. 2 (2013)
SPECIAL ISSUE: AUTHENTICITY
CALL FOR PAPERS
“Values in the Environment – Relations and Conflicts”
The X IIAA International Summer Conference on Environmental Aesthetics
Lahti, Finland, 1.8.-3.8.2013.
The International Institute of Applied Aesthetics (IIAA) will arrange the X Summer Conference on Environmental Aesthetics in Lahti, Finland, 1.8.-3.8.2013. The theme of the conference is “Values in the Environment – Relations and Conflicts “
Environments are arenas for different sorts of values. Environments are valued for their beauty and aesthetic experiences they afford, but there are also moral and ecological values that need to be taken into consideration, for example, in decision-making concerning particular areas both in human and in natural environments.
Different values can also come into conflict with one another. The ecologically best environment is not necessarily the most valuable environment from an aesthetic point of view. How should the weight of the different values present in environments be assessed? Is aesthetic value in some ways inferior to other sorts of values or could aesthetic value perhaps serve as a reason for preserving parts of the environment?
There is also an interesting question about the possibility of aesthetically appreciating damaged environments. How does the morally questionable background of an environment affect its aesthetic value? Can a mine or a quarry, for example, be considered beautiful?
The value of natural environments and green spaces in urban environments on promoting human well-being has also been increasingly recognized. How should these results be taken into account in urban planning? One increasing challenge faced by urban planning is the development of more environmentally sustainable cities. Could aesthetics in some ways aid in achieving this goal?
Last July, Spain hosted the 5th Edition of the Mediterranean Congress of Aesthetics. Entitled “Art, Emotion, and Value”, it was organized by both the University of Murcia and the Technical University of Cartagena and took place in the campus of the latter. The venue of the conference was particularly unique: the old Navy Training Barracks, a stunning old military building which has recently been refurbished. Its huge windows and awnings provoked games of light and shadow in the best tradition of Mediterranean architecture, and so created a singular atmosphere that drew the admiration of all the participants. The plenary room offered impressive views over the city harbour, which could also be enjoyed in a pleasant rest room where the debates continued over the beautiful sea view. What is more, the building had a charming interior patio covered by geometrically shaped awnings where the welcome dinner and breaks were hosted.
The choice of venue was one of the many correct decisions of the Organizing Committee, all from the area of Aesthetics and Theory of Arts (University of Murcia) in collaboration with the College of Architecture and Building Engineering of the Technical University of Cartagena. They not only dealt efficiently with all the practical issues but also hosted the visitors with kind hospitality, which favoured a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. During the official Opening session, professor Dyonisis A. Zivas, from the National Technical University of Athens, and organizer of the First edition of the Congress in Greece in year 2000, thanked Matilde Carrasco and the rest of the Organizing Committee for their efforts in giving continuity to an initiative that aims to reinforce the cultural relations shared by the diverse peoples of the Mediterranean for thousands of years.
Following the line of the previous encounters, and given that the common link is a geographical space and not a particular language, the Congress had English, French, and Spanish as official languages. The participants came from various countries of the South of Europe, the North of Africa and the Middle East, but there were also people from Brazil, Canada, USA, Switzerland, or the Czech Republic, which confirms the drawing power and the consolidation of these encounters beyond the natural boundaries of the Mediterranean. This geographical diversity was combined with the multi-disciplined nature of the conference as philosophers, historians of art, researchers from communication sciences or theatre, and artists attended. It should be emphasized that many young researchers, new doctors and PhD. students participated, giving vitality to the discussions.
The Congress lasted five days, however, the large quantity of papers forced their organization in three parallel sessions and so demanded of the participants a similar division that consequently fragmented the debate. This might be the only regrettable aspect of the conference and far from being exclusive to this event, it is currently a problem in most international meetings, which could be even more serious in other more crowded fields of knowledge. We will have to learn to deal with this difficulty to reap the benefits of internationalization and multidisciplinarity.
The subject of the congress, “Art, Emotion and Value”, led to two main kinds of discussion in particular. On the one hand, the issue of the relation between art, ethics and politics, a wide debate in which many people work nowadays and which is attracting more all the time. The relation between art and politics was the main subject, for example, in the last conference organized by the Nordic Society for Aesthetics, hold last spring in Copenhagen, and it will be of others already planned for 2012. On the other hand, there was the relation between art and emotions: the analysis of the emotions expressed by artworks and the emotional responses of the public to art, a line in which the researchers of the Area of Aesthetics and Theory of Art from the University of Murcia have been working hard on for many years. However, besides these two principal issues, other papers focused on aesthetic experience and judgement, aesthetics of nature, the analysis of the role of senses in aesthetic appreciation, and so on.
By Krystyna Wilkoszewska, Polish Society of Aesthetics, Krakow, Poland
The 1stPolish-Japanese Meeting: Aesthetics and Cultures took place on May 23-24, 2011 in Cracow’s Jagiellonian University. The idea for the conference was initiated by the Polish Association of Aesthetics and firmly supported by the Japanese Society for Aesthetics. Nine prominent Japanese scholars came to Cracow to discuss the problems of intercultural aesthetics in a bilateral formula. The conference was opened by the Dean of the Philosophical Faculty, the former Polish Ambassador to Japan, and the Honorary Consul of Japan in Cracow.
Reporter: Michael Ranta
Pictures ICA 18 © Michael Ranta
For about one century now, the international association of aesthetics has arranged19 congresses all over the world, in Europe, Asia, and North and South Americas. The first congress took place in Berlin in 1913, the second one in Paris in 1937, while– interrupted by the Second World War and its aftermath- the following ones were held from 1956 onwards with four-year intervals. These congresses were initiatedby the Comité International d'Esthétique consisting of prominent, though self-appointed scholars within the field of aesthetics, such as Harold Osborne, Thomas Munro, Etienne Souriau and many others. However, in 1988, the International Association for Aesthetics (IAA) was established, having a formal constitution which included membership for national societies and individual scholars and specified election procedures for IAA’s officers and its executive committee. Under the auspices of the IAA most of the congresses afterwards took place with three-year intervals – in Madrid (1992), Lahti, Finland (1995), Ljubljana, Slovenia (1998), Tokyo (2001), Rio de Janeiro (2003), and in Ankara (2007).
The most recent congress was held 9th to 13th August at Peking University in Beijing, China, organized by the IAA together with the university and Beijing Municipal Education Commission. Whereas the congress in Ankara had about 400 participants, as many as 1000 active participants attended the five-day congress in Beijing, about 400 of them stemming from China itself (and there were about 200 additional Chinese listeners). The attention and interest which the congress quite obviously received, not least within China, was certainly remarkable, and the fact that Yuan Guiren, the Chinese minister of education, gave one of the opening speeches might also be regarded as quite significant. Peking University, which has one of the best reputations in China (and indeed is ranked as nr. 47 on the QS University Ranking List), and its campus provided an excellent setting for the congress. Numerous shops and restaurants were available, and park and garden areas with lakes invited relaxing strolls. Moreover, the university also hosts several museums, and the architectural setting consists of modern buildings as well as traditional Chinese houses and pagodas. Beijing itself, having more than 20 million inhabitants, can sometimes be densely crowded and busy, so the campus area felt something like an oasis in the middle of this huge city. In general, I experienced the atmosphere on this beautiful campus as very friendly and peaceful. Most of the participants were accommodated in university residential facilities and hotels nearby (at subsidized prices), thus the conference locations were quite easily accessible.
As for the conference itself, I must admit that I – and, as I heard later, even other delegates - had some initial worries over its practical and organizational realization. The congress website with its call for papers, launched at the end of 2009, was certainly promising. Ten main topics were suggested:
As usual, information about the congress fee (200 USD) as well as instructions for the abstracts and the presentations etc. were included, the latter with a suggested length of 30 minutes, including 10 minutes for discussion. However, the initial website ceased to work after a while, and no connection to it could be made. After about two months this site was replaced by another one, which was much more elaborated, but where some of the function buttons did not work. Moreover, the communication by email to the executive staff proved to be difficult, expected answers were often much delayed, and hotel reservations and payments in advance proved in several cases to be difficult (the latter even impossible), demanding a lot of time-consuming correspondence. So, my initial worries were perhaps understandable - but proved in the end to be unnecessary. The XIIIth Congress of Aesthetics, I would say, turned out to be a great success!
The registration procedure at the beginning of the congress proceeded very smoothly at various locations and with the help of innumerable student volunteers who, in my own experience, usually had very good English skills. Each participant received a strong cloth bag containing a book with all abstracts (the size of a phone book!), a set of errata and corrections, a beautifully designed booklet about Chinese aesthetics, information about artistic events, and free lunch/dinner vouchers for all congress days. The enthusiastic and responsive assistance of the volunteers here was outstanding, as well as at the other locations, such as lunch/dinner places, during the cultural events, and at the congress venues in general, and contributed to a large extent to the friendly atmosphere during the congress! Their efforts undoubtedly deserve respect and much gratitude!
One of the larger university buildings functioned as the main venue for the presentations, thus it was quite easy to get from one session to another without any noteworthy delay. The session rooms were bright, modern and functional, with up-to-date technical equipment. The various presentations were, as usual, structured as plenary or panel sessions and (more or less coherent) thematic sections, with a great variety of topics, certainly doing justice to the congress headline “Diversities in Aesthetics”. These included, for example, analytic as well as continental aesthetics/philosophy, art education, architecture and urban planning, music, cinema, environmental aesthetics, literary theory, neuroscience and psychology of art, contemporary art, Marxist aesthetics, calligraphy, history of aesthetics, and digital art. Notable was also the occurrence of numerous sections on dance aesthetics, which usually have not been as prominent in other congresses of aesthetics which I have attended so far. Due to the vast number of presentations held at numerous parallel sessions, it is obviously quite difficult to give an all-embracing outline of them. It would also seem to be somewhat unfair and arbitrary, I think, to pick out certain speakers, while at the same time ignoring other commendable presentations. It perhaps suffices to say that I personally found a great number of them utterly inspiring, touching upon important issues as well as giving new insights into the various domains of aesthetic research.
Not surprisingly, a great number of presentations of course dealt with Asian aesthetics, i.e. from Korea, Japan, India and, not least, China, itself. Several presentations attempted to elucidate differences as well as similarities between Western and Chinese aesthetics. One question that became apparent was in which way it might be reasonable to talk about a specific “Chinese aesthetics” rather than “aesthetics in China”. As a matter of fact, since the 19th century aesthetic research in China has to a considerable extent been influenced by Western traditions, such as the works of Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Schopenhauer, Schiller and Nietzsche, just to mention a few philosophers whose works were translated into Chinese and became widely discussed in certain academic circles. Moreover, Marxist aesthetics was introduced as early as 1919 (when the Chinese “May Fourth” movement took place) and became especially prominent after the 1950’s when the Communist party under Mao Zedong came to power. On the other hand, aesthetic discussions in China had occurred as early as the 3rd century BC onwards, influenced by Confucian, Taoist, and Buddhist thinking. A detailed discussion of traditional Chinese aesthetics would unfortunately go beyond the scope of this report, but we may note that rather holistic views of nature and humankind were embraced and artistic practices attempted to resonate with nature as well as the social landscape. Generally speaking, much less emphasis is put on originality, individuality and the expression of personal feelings compared with Western aesthetical ideals.
While some of the Chinese main speakers’ lectures were simultaneously translated into English (portable transmitting devices with earphones were available for this purpose), most of the Chinese presentations were not, thus being incomprehensible to most foreign participants. For obvious reasons this was unfortunate, as – judging from the titles – a great number of them might have given non-Chinese listeners substantial and important insights into Chinese culture and artistic practices. However, there were numerous possibilities for informal meetings and inspiring discussions besides the actual lecture sessions. Apart from meetings at the congress venues and during the lunches, two large banquets with exquisite Chinese cuisine were arranged. One especially noteworthy highlight of the congress took place one afternoon when bus excursions to the Forbidden City and to the Quing emperors’ Summer Palace, respectively, took place and also provided many opportunities for discussion. Another cultural highpoint was an aesthetically absolutely overwhelming dance performance one evening by members of the Beijing Dance Academy. Moreover, at the university library an exhibition took place showing traditional Chinese arts and crafts as well as calligraphy. At the congress main venue, another exhibition of contemporary (though, I think, hardly controversial) Chinese painting could also be seen.
In concluding, then, I would say that this congress was well-organized. It provided many opportunities for stimulating intellectual and personal meetings, as well as outstanding aesthetic experiences, and it had a generally friendly and open-minded atmosphere. In these respects, the Beijing congress indeed met the high standards already set at the exceptionally well-arranged congresses in Tokyo 2001 and in Ankara 2007. All of the presentations are intended to be issued on a CD, while a selection of them will be published in book form. Hopefully, these publications will also include translations of (at least some of) the Chinese presentations into English. So, there is every reason to congratulate the congress organizers, most notably perhaps Gao Jianping, Peng Feng, Ye Lang, and Zhu Liangzhi, and all involved persons, not least the student volunteers, on this very successful gathering.
The next International Congress of Aesthetics will take place in Kraków, Poland in 2013.
 Venice 1956, Athens 1960, Amsterdam 1964, Uppsala 1968, Bucharest 1972, Darmstadt 1976, Dubrovnik 1980, Montreal 1984, Nottingham 1988.
 Website of the congress: http://www.caae.pku.edu.cn/ica2010/List/List_426.html
 I would like to thank Jos de Mul and Arnold Berleant for their helpful comments on an earlier draft on this report.